Instant Pot Pork Butt Makes a Delicious Carnitas Taco

Full disclosure, I was raised a strict vegetarian. Don’t worry, I fell off that wagon when I was 16. However, this means that everything I know about cooking meat has come from trial and error or the Internet. After all, I didn’t marry a chef, although he does make excellent nachos (the key is to use the entire block of cheese).

By the way, I wasn’t planning to write about this Instant Pot adventure, so there aren’t photos. Well, there is one of the uncooked pork butt because I texted it to Ryan with the phrase, “I bought meat.” The rest are random photos were taken on trips to Mexico.

Pork Butt

While I have learned to cook meat from online recipes and through simply doing it, I have steered clear of anything roast-like and have never cooked a turkey.

For Christmas 2020, my mother got me an Instant Pot. It lives in my basement because my kitchen is child-size, but I do take it out periodically to make rice. Yes, my Instant Pot is a very big rice cooker. I have also used it several times for roasts and have had some success and some epic failures. I once turned a roast into some sort of inedible leather product. It was like Instant Pot magic, albeit, bad magic.

Last week, while browsing King Soopers, I spied a pork butt on sale for $8.93, originally almost $18 dollars. Now, I have never cooked a pork butt or any piece of meat that’s nearly 6 pounds, but it was so cheap that my thriftiness took over. I love a deal. By the way, I’ve read that pork butt is often an affordable piece of meat so I may get it again.

Breakfast tacos on the beach in Sayulita, Mexico.

My husband was overtly shocked that I purchased this chunk of meat, but I said the internet promised that I could make carnitas out of it, so therefore the meat, all 6 pounds of it, was ours.

Pork butt actually comes from the shoulder of a pig, so why it is referred to as “butt” I have no idea. Maybe it’s British? It seems like a good, wry British joke. Pork butt, aka pork shoulder, is notoriously tough and full of fat. At least mine was fatty, super-duper fatty.

I quickly looked at online recipes for how to Instant Pot pork butt, and after scrolling through long stories about the recipe writers’ love and connection to pork butt blah, blah, blah, I figured I didn’t really need a recipe.

I kinda hate recipes and look at them once before using them as an outline that I may or may not follow. This is why our subscription to Hello Fresh lasted approximately one month and nearly ruined our marriage.

San Miguel de Cozumel, Mexico

One aspect I did glean from multiple Instant Pot pork butt recipes is that I needed water in the pot, and many recommended searing the butt first. This was not going to happen because it seems awkwardly difficult to sear a 6-pound chunk of meat and I am lazy. No searing of this butt was happening.

So, this is what I did. I added two cups of chicken stock to my pot, unceremoniously cut my 6-pound meat chunk into two chunks, and added that to the Instant Pot. Then, I unpeeled and crushed 10 or so garlic cloves and added that along with half a rough-cut onion. I threw in a bunch of salt and a little pepper. Of course, I added thickly sliced jalapenos and serrano (two of each).

This is when I tossed in a bunch of red seasoning. I think it’s spicy adobo but when I cut the bag open I threw away the top, so I am not sure. It’s spicy and from the Mexican aisle – that much I know. I put a lot in the pot, massaging it into the meat so that it wasn’t just floating in the stock.

At this point, I sealed up the Instant Pot and cooked the pork butt for about 80 minutes. I did a quick release on the Instant Pot because no one wrote otherwise in their recipes. Instant Pot users will know what I am referring to here.

I do not have a picture of the result, but it wouldn’t be pretty anyway. However, my house smelled like a Mexican kitchen. It was delightful.

The Westin Cozumel

I then fried some corn tortillas with butter, added meat, onions, cilantro, and avocado slices and we ate them up.

The next day, I finished shredding all the meat. Yes, it was fatty, but this is what makes it so scrumptious after pressure cooking. Last night, I reheated some of the shredded carnitas meat and made tortas. Oh, my goodness were they amazing.

This meat is so versatile. It goes in breakfast burritos, regular burritos, and tamales, although I’ve never tried my hand at that. I leave tamale-making to the professionals. However, I will Instant Pot another pork butt to make carnitas.

I am so proud.

Sayulita, Mexico

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